Argentina’s Largest Human Rights Trial Commences

November 29, 2012

The ongoing prosecution of human rights violations from Argentina’s military dictatorship of 1976-1983 has been a subject of some interest here before. Thus, it’s worth noting that the biggest human rights trial has begun, as 68 people stand the possibility of being convicted for their roles in torture, “disappearances,” and other human rights violations during the military regime. As the article mentions, among the 68 are six pilots facing charges for their roles in so-called “death flights” in which Argnetina’s air force would fly victims (who were usually still alive) out over the Atlantic ocean and dump them into the ocean in an attempt to simultaneously murder them and dispose of any evidence of the murder, a tactic the Argentines learned from the French (who employed similar measures in the Algerian War of 1954-1962). This is another major step towards addressing justice in Argentina. Immediately after the regime’s collapse in 1983 in the wake of the Malvinas/Falklands War, civilian president Raul Alfonsin managed to obtain convictions for the highest-ranking military officials of the junta, but by the 1990s, neoliberal president Carlos Menem declared a general amnesty for human rights violators. Fortunately, the past several years have seen the undoing of that amnesty, and those military members who either ordered the use of torture and disappearance or who actually committed such human rights violations are continuing to face justice nearly 30 years after the regime fell from power. Though the fact that this is the largest trial yet is noteworthy, what is probably just as important for victims and their families is the fact that Argentina continues to acknowledge the need to confront its past in order to address the injustices of military rule.

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